RAF Mount Batten

RAF Mount Batten was a Royal Air Force station and flying boat base at Mount Batten, a peninsula in Plymouth Sound, Devon, England. Originally a seaplane station opened in 1917 as a Royal Navy Air Service Station Cattewater it became RAF Cattewater in 1918 and in 1928 was renamed RAF Mount Batten. The station motto was In Honour Bound which is the motto of the Mountbatten family.[1]

RAF Mount Batten
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Plymouth Sound, Devon, England
RAF Mount Batten station crest.jpg
"In Honour Bound"
RAF Mount Batten is located in Devon
RAF Mount Batten
RAF Mount Batten
Coordinates50°21′32″N 4°07′48″W / 50.35889°N 4.13000°W / 50.35889; -4.13000Coordinates: 50°21′32″N 4°07′48″W / 50.35889°N 4.13000°W / 50.35889; -4.13000
TypeSeaplane Station and Flying Boat base
Site information
Site history
In use1917-1986
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second World War
Garrison information
OccupantsRoyal Naval Air Service
Royal Air Force

Today, little evidence of the RAF base remains apart from several memorials, some aviation-related road names, the main slipway and two impressive Grade II listed F-type aeroplane hangars dating from 1917.


Royal Naval Air Station CattewaterEdit

As early as 1913 the sheltered Cattewater in Plymouth Sound was used for seaplane trials and in 1916 plans to open a Royal Navy seaplane station were agreed. In February 1917 RNAS Cattewater was opened. It had a hangar for aircraft, storage and maintenance and a stone pier with a railway track that enabled a steam crane to place the seaplanes in and out of the water. The first aircraft based there were the Short 184 and these were soon followed by other seaplanes. Operational flying was carried out from Cattewater, mainly coastal patrols.

Royal Air Force Station CattewaterEdit

With the formation in April 1918 of the Royal Air Force the station became RAF Cattewater. The station was little used but in 1919 the station became notable with the arrival of the Curtiss NC 4 flying boat making the first aerial crossing of the Atlantic. From 1923 the station was re-built and extended and was re-opened in 1928.

Royal Air Force Station Mount BattenEdit

Mount Batten from Plymouth Hoe

On 1 October 1928, following re-building, the old Cattewater seaplane station was opened as RAF Mount Batten. The main reason for the new station was to provide a base for flying boats to defend south-west England. The first squadron (No. 203 Squadron RAF) became operational with the Supermarine Southampton.

The station also became a base for high-speed air sea rescue launches on which, in the 1930s, was employed Aircraftman Shaw, better known as T. E. Lawrence, who had suggested the change of name.[2][3] The base is actually named after Captain Batten, a Civil War commander who defended this area at the time, with the Mountbatten family motto taken as the station's motto.[4]

With the start of the Second World War there was an increase in operational flying from Mount Batten. It was also the target for a number of German air raids including the destruction of one of the hangars and a Short Sunderland on 28 November 1940.

At the end of the war the Australian squadron departed for home and the station became a Maintenance Unit. At the end of the 1950s the station became the Marine Craft Training School and from 1961 became the main base of the RAF Marine Branch, with the closure of No. 238 MU, Calshot. Although without any aircraft, the station became the centre for both marine craft until the marine branch closed in 1986 and the School of Survival until it moved in 1992. It also housed No. 3 Maritime Headquarters Unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force providing Communications and Operations Room personnel.

RAF units and aircraftEdit

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 203 Squadron RAF 1929 Supermarine Southampton [5]
No. 204 Squadron RAF 1929–1935 Supermarine Southampton [5]
No. 209 Squadron RAF 1930–1935 Numerous types refer notes below [6]
No. 237 Squadron RAF 1918–1919 Short 184 Formed from 420, 421, 422 and 423 Flights.[7]
No. 238 Squadron RAF 1918–1919 Curtiss H.16
Short 184
Felixstowe F.2A
Felixstowe F.3
Formed from 347, 348 and 349 Flights.[7]
No. 461 Squadron RAAF 1942 Short Sunderland II and III Australian squadron under RAF operational control.[8]
No. 10 Squadron RAAF 1941–1945 Short Sunderland Australian squadron under RAF control

209 Squadron operated the following aircraft types Blackburn Iris III (1930–1932), Saro A.7 (1932), Blackburn Iris IV (1932–1934), Singapore II (1932), Southampton II (1933–1935), Perth (1934), Saro London I (1934), Supermarine Stranraer (1935), Short R.24/31 (1935).



  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1st publish. ed.). London [u.a.]: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 109. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ Beauforte-Greenwood, W. E. G. "Notes on the introduction to the RAF of high-speed craft". T. E. Lawrence Studies. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ Michael Korda, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia ISBN 978-0-06-171261-6, p. 642
  4. ^ Mill, Phillip (2007). "The RAF Mount Batten Experience". RAF Historical Society Journal. Royal Air Force Historical Society (40): 123. ISSN 1361-4231.
  5. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 68.
  6. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 69.
  7. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 75.
  8. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 93.


  • Jefford, C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Teague, Dennis C (1986). Mount Batten: Flying Boat Base Plymouth 1913-1986. author.

External linksEdit